This week, Chancellor George Osborne invites workers to participate in a survey, in a reprise of the 2010 exercise which generated ideas that helped cut public sector spending. Millions of public sector workers, including teachers, civil servants and diplomats, are to be asked for their ideas on how to deliver public services more efficiently, to help George Osborne cut departmental spending by £20bn.
The treasury says the exercise in 2010 generated ideas that helped cut costs. These included stopping the distribution of plastic national insurance number cards and increasing electronic access to the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the Criminal Records Bureau) for employers to reduce the need for multiple checks.
The chancellor announced in his summer budget that he will cut departmental spending by £20bn, to allow him to eliminate the structural budget deficit by 2019-20. A total fiscal consolidation of £37bn, allowing the chancellor to deliver an overall budget surplus by the 2020 general election, will also include £12bn in welfare cuts and £5bn in further measures to crack down on tax avoidance and tax evasion.
In his letter to public sector employees, Osborne said: “You know better than most where we can take the next steps. You know first-hand where things are working well on the frontline of public services, but also where the waste is and where we can provide better services for less money.
“You know where we can go further to reform our public services, and where we can devolve more power so that local people have more control and local leaders are more accountable.
“In the last parliament, when we asked for your help in a similar way, many of you put forward ideas which saved millions of pounds. It was thanks to the suggestions of dedicated public sector professionals that we stopped distributing national insurance numbers with a plastic card, reduced the need for multiple Criminal Records Bureau checks by giving employers greater electronic access to records, and built closer links across health and social care.
“So today we are inviting you to share with us your ideas for how to get more for less. If you think there is a better way to do things, we want to know. Please submit your ideas through our online survey by Friday 4 September. These will be looked at and considered by the Treasury and Cabinet Office, in partnership with government departments.”
This is proof again of the power of getting the right ideas from the right people. Those who are in the mix everyday will see more room for improvement and adjustments than those who oversee, it’s just a simple result of spending more time in a particular environment. The most important factor in this campaign lies in ensuring that the right ideas can be measured, evaluated and implemented, to allow a forward-thinking campaign to flourish.